The thing I get asked most after ‘what’s your hair colour’ is ‘how do I start blogging?’ I get so many emails, comments and tweets asking that I thought it might be time to write a little post about how I go about blogging. No first means first, I am in no way an expert and I still can’t get my head round about the amount of people that read my little blog but I’d just thought I’d throw some tips and tricks out there and it might just maybe help someone. So I think this will probably be a long one, so you might want to get your onesie on and get comfy. Let’s start from the beginning…
” The first rule of blogging is… there are no rules.”
How it All Started..
Me aged 17 just before I started to read blogs. You can tell by that horrible blush application and the fact my fake tan looks like I’ve just come back from a holiday to the sun/ or I haven’t washed in about seven years.
I discovered blogs back in 2009 when I was at college, my friend Sam (click on her name she writes a blog too and it’s great) told me about Lollipop26 aka Buy Now Blog Later Laura, I went home that night and just read, and read her blog. I went to Boots the next day and bought Revlon Colourstay foundation on her recommendation and started watching her videos along with Pixiwoo’s too. For some reason I stopped reading blogs when I started uni but at the end of my first year, I got bit by the blogging bug. I remember reading Milly’s, Jen’s and Laura’s blog all summer and got a little addicted.
I originally set a blog up in October 2009, I wrote a post about some things I’d bought shopping and then left it at that. I then suddenly realised I had a blog in September 2010 and started blogging properly. I’d just moved to a new city, I was a bit lonely and blogging helped me feel normal again. Well that and One Tree Hill.. Chad Micheal Murray is a healer. I started writing about make up, nail varnish and primark hauls. Yes you can check out my old posts, they’re very cringe though! Two years down the line, I’m still blogging and I still love it. Well most of the time anyways. Yes I may have a lot more readers than I did two years ago and my photography has come on leaps and bounds but I still don’t feel any different about blogging than I did when I sat down at my boyfriend’s laptop two years ago.
How To Set A Blog Up..
This is all you need, a laptop and some creative ideas.
So I’m no techno wiz, in fact I’ve only just got to terms with the touch screen. So if I can set a blog up then basically anyone can. So my blog is hosted on Blogger and I find it the easiest platform to use, that may be because I haven’t used another platform but I’ve never had any problems at all. When you first start a blog, the key is to keep writing content, it may feel like you’re talking yourself (that’s something I’ll address later on) but it’s really good to have your blog always rolling out fresh content. Always make sure to proof read and spell check posts before popping online, I’ve sometimes not looked closely enough and once spelt America wrong in my holiday posts. My boyfriend laughed for a while at that one. The meanie. I’m not here to give a tutorial on how to set a blog etc, but Blogger is seriously simple but if you have any trouble at all, Google is full of handy simple tips.
Making Your Blog Look All Pretty..
I’m one of those people who’s a bit of a perfectionist. When I move into a new place, I want it looking perfect straight away whilst my boyfriend is like ‘it doesn’t have to be perfect straight away.’ I was the same with my blog, I wanted it to look all pretty and professional straight away. However I suddenly realised how complicated HTML is, oh I wish I could remember all the HTML stuff I knew from the days of Myspace. To start with I used a Simple template on Blogger and used websites who gave out free backgrounds. My favourite one to use for that is Shabby Blogs Backgrounds. Then if you want to spend some pennies on getting someone to design a blog design for you there are people who can do that, my latest blog design was by the lovely Gillian. Unfortunately she won’t be doing anymore blog designs for a while as she’s busy with her Masters Degree. However other bloggers who do designs or feature simple easy to follow DIY tutorials are Girl Does Geek and MisseBlog.
How To Get People To Read Your Blog..
Keep a To Do list so you keep a routine when blogging.
Whenever I get emails about blogging, many ask that fateful question ‘how do I get people to follow my blog?’ In a nutshell, there is no quick fix, it just happens. Yes blogging can be rewarding but for those first few months it can seem like you’re talking yourself, heck I still feel like that sometimes. But like I said earlier make sure you’re always updating content, after all people are more likely to follow if there’s lots of content instead of sporadic posts. However there are some ways you can get people to check out your blog, first of all sign up to some social networking sites. Twitter is a must have for bloggers, follow all your fave bloggers and join in conversations with them. You will get some who won’t reply, but most bloggers are lovely and will. Do no beg your favourite bloggers for RT’s of your blog.. I’m not being a bitch but most of the time it will just piss the blogger off. It’s almost like you’re using them a little bit and the blogger who you’re tweeting will of been blogging for years and will of worked hard to get all those followers.
Basically followers don’t turn up every night, but you shouldn’t be in it for the followers. To me blogging is an outlet for me, it’s somewhere where I can come and waffle about the things I love the most; beauty and fashion. I get to talk to like minded people and you will too if you give it time. Also comment on other blog posts, again don’t write ‘check my blog out etc etc’ no no no. Just write a normal comment, pay the blogger a compliment * it’s got to be genuine though* and chances are they’ll check your blog out. You have to put the effort in and you’ll reap the rewards. Join in with Twitter Blogger chats, you’ll be able to swap links, but don’t take the conversations too much to heart, they can sometimes be a bit like ‘don’t do this, do this.’ But it’s a good way for bloggers to interact and swap blog links. The #bbloggers chat usually takes place at 8pm on a Sunday evening.. that is if you can tear yourself away from Xfactor and those dreamy Union J boys. Swoon.
Blogging is hard work, nothing happens over night but if you write content that you find interesting then other like minded people will follow. I always say to write blog posts that please you. Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks, as long as you’re happy that’s what matters. From time to time I will sit and read my blog, I think to myself would I follow this blog if I stumbled across it? If I say yes, then I’m doing okay, if it’s a no, I know I need to change some content and look at some different ways to change it slightly. Keep your content orginal *no copying please* and write naturally. Don’t write to fit in, be unique, that’s what makes blogs interesting, they’re written by real people. Let your personality shine through, I’d much rather read a blog with a personality.
I still don’t know why quite a few people read my blog and to be honest I tend to not think about it too much or I might just scare myself. But this is what I’ve done over the past two years and I’ve found that having clear, big pictures have also helped keep people interested and reading. You don’t need a fancy camera, just a point and shoot or even your Iphone would work, just make sure they’re clear and in a good light. For a good blog photography post check this one out by Zoe, it’s super helpful and makes the whole complicated process of photography simple.
The PR Side Of Blogging..
Sadly one thing that blogging is associated with these days is the fact you get ‘free stuff.’ Back when I started blogging, I never knew that PR agencies sent you products to review or that there were events you could get invited to. About a year or so ago, I started to very luckily start to be contacted by PR agencies. The thing is all I’m going to say is that if you get into blogging for the free stuff, you’re not in it for the right reasons. It’s a very touche subject in the blogging world but all I will say is, getting free stuff isn’t the be all and end all.
I did post on Twitter asking if there’s anything you’d like covered in this post and a few of you asked about how to get PR’s to notice your blog. This is quite a touchy subject for me as I mention above, getting free products is not what blogging is about. BUT what I can suggest is a few things. First of all do not email PR companies demanding free products. You’ll get ignored and possibly blacklisted, no one likes a diva. When you’ve got a few readers under your belt, think at least 100, maybe send a email to PR companies asking to be added to a press list. Write down all your stats, page views, unique visitors, followers, twitter followers etc. Be polite, they may add you to the press list, they may not but this doesn’t mean they’ll send you stuff. Basically introduce yourself, you never know where it might lead. Also follow PR agencies on twitter as some tweet looking for new bloggers to review products so there can be opportunities. Just because you don’t get sent latest products or invited events doesn’t mean that you’re a rubbish blogger. Try to remember this.
Writing Content For Your Blog
A diary/notepad is great for noting down blog post ideas.
Finally one of the most important things about blogging is to regularly update. When I was at uni, I tended to post every day, boy I miss those days! Now I’m working full time, I post every few days, to be honest I post when I feel like it! If I have a day off, I might get some drafts written but then other times, I’ll write a post up when I’m home from work or before I go to bed. Write when it suits you, don’t feel you have to post every day, post whenever you want to/feel like. Some people prefer to write posts in one go and schedule them over the week whilst other people like me like to write them on the spot. That’s probably why in some of my posts I’m a little bit mad because I’m in a crazy mood. How do you keep content interesting? Well like I said write about you find interesting, write about maybe new products, your all time favourite products, anything you like. Write about your toothbrush if you like, whatever floats your boat! I tend to keep a list of stuff I want to write about and then cross it off as I go along. I also take loads of photos in one go and then use them at different times. It saves having to take a picture of a product here and there. I tend to do this on my days off if I’m not too busy doing other things i.e sleeping. If you’re enjoying writing about it and you find it interesting, chances are it’s blooming good. Never write about anything you don’t find interesting, it’s like when you’re at school/college/uni it’s always hard to write about something you don’t enjoy. Mine was Maths or Science or Multiculturalism. I would DO anything to avoid do those pieces of homework. I would also do anything to avoid learning about them in class.. yes I did once distract myself by doing my make up in Biology. I bet my teachers won’t be surprised to know I now write a beauty blog.
The main thing about blogging is to enjoy it. It’s your blog so do what pleases you, don’t give a hoo ha what anyone else thinks or says. People will read your blog I promise, don’t get disheartened when it seems no one’s reading it. Remember there are no rules to blogging. I hope you’ve found this post useful if you’re new to blogging, I just thought it might come into use to someone. I’m in no way an expert and not blowing my trumpet at all, this is just what I’ve picked up over the past two years! I think I have pretty much covered everything but tweet me at @dizzybrunette3 if there’s anything else you want to know. I hope you’ve all had a good day 🙂 and I’ll see you soon!
P.S if you’re a blogger and would like a little laugh, check this tumblr out.. http://blogger-bitches.tumblr.com/